Monday, September 13, 2010

Random Disney comments: mothers

Disney movies gives moms short shrift. In most movies, moms aren't even present. There are a lot more missing moms than dads, and so percentage wise many fewer mothers have strong relationships with their main character children or strong acting roles. Dads, by contrast, are wonderful people - lots of strong relationships, there's even a grand total of Three movies where the dad is the hero. Even if they are absent, dads are revered and mentioned while a missing mother doesn't get a mention.

You may not believe me. You may even be able to cite one of the few good moms given that they just gave us one. But let's take a look at a list of the Walt Disney Animation Studios major motion pictures (so we're not counting Pixar yet). And let's not even bother with the musical montage pieces, like Fantasia, and there are a few movies I haven't seen so I'm not suited to comment on them. So that throws out 21 of the 49 films right off the bat as not having a mother, but nobody's surprised. Here is how I score the mothers (or mother figure) and fathers (or father figure) [Peter Pan is a special case where the parents have a weak role, but the whole play/novel is in praise of mothers and motherhood.]

Mothers Fathers
Evil 3 2
Antagonist 0 2
Missing 12 6
Weak 3 3
Strong 7 11

None of the evil or antagonistic parents are actually parents of the hero: step-mothers, an uncle, a pair of villains abusing the girl in their care, and Tarzan's gorilla-dad. But check out the missing. Moms are twice as likely to be missing as dads. There are only two movies that have a mom but not a dad.

Just looking at the recent (since Little Mermaid) spate of movies, mothers are missing in more than half of them; Tarzan has a strong mother role, Lilo & Stitch has a strong mother role (I think - I haven't seen it, but I've seen plenty of promo shots with the mom), and the Princess and the Frog has a strong mother role. But even then, mother is still alive and all the girl cares about is her relationship with her dead father. Its his dream of a restaurant that matters, not mom's dream of grandchildren; it's visions of daddy that drive her, inspire her, and tempt her in at least 3 separate musical numbers while Oprah [Oprah!] gets one.

Meanwhile, the only recent movie missing a daddy is the Rescuers Down Under [I'm not sure about Lilo & Stitch, again]. Every father figure has a strong role, with one villain [Frollo] and one antagonist [Tarzan's gorilla-dad]. Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Simba, Mulan, Chicken Little, and Tia are all driven by their relationship with dear old daddums. Dad may not always understand, but reconciliation comes in every case and the love of child for parent and parent for child is more than evident.

Pixar has the same issue. Andy has both parents but they're largely invisible. No parents in Monsters. A strong dad (no moms) in Cars, Nemo, AND Ratatouille; two strong parents in Incredibles (one of whom is the hero); and Up where there is one weak mother relationship, an absent and sorely missed father relationship dominating one lead character's motivations, and another strong father-figure who is a hero.

Mind, it's great to be a Disney Dad. Can we give the moms a little more love?

1 comment:

Tamra and Jeremy said...

Here here! Although, I've been unimpressed with Disney Dads too. Most of the Princess movies have a Dad that's made to look rediculous or completely wrong in his understanding of the world. I have quite a few beefs with Disney, though, so don't mind me... :)